Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2008 1:54 PM
Shrewsbury Joins Stand for Community Self-Government; Passes Sludge/Trespass Ordinance
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
Main Office: 675 Mower Road, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania 17202
West Coast Office: 126 NE Mason Street, Portland, OR 97211
Shrewsbury Takes Stand for Community Self-Government
Against Sludgers and the Attorney General
Bans Corporate Sewage Sludge Dumping
Becomes Fourth Community in Nation to Ban Chemical Bodily Trespass;
Denies Claim that Constitutional Rights of People belong to Corporations
Ordinance Recognizes the Rights of Nature;
Asserts Civil Rights of Residents to Sue Corporations as State Actors
CONTACT: Ben Price, Projects Director
September 4, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Carlisle, September 4)
On September 3, 2008, the Board of Supervisors in Shrewsbury Township in York County voted
unanimously to adopt the Local Control, Sewage Sludge, and Chemical Trespass Ordinance.
With full knowledge that the Pennsylvania Attorney General (AG) has sued East Brunswick Township
in Schuylkill County to overturn a similar Ordinance, Shrewsbury chose to adopt one that
differs from East Brunswick’s by being even more strenuous in defending the rights of residents.
In a move that amounts to an open rejection of the authority of the Attorney General
to protect the interests of sludge haulers against the authority of people to self-govern
in their communities, the Board of Supervisors of Shrewsbury Township enacted a law that bans
corporations from dumping sewage sludge as “fertilizer.”
The Ordinance also states as a matter of law that, within the community, corporations possess
no constitutional “rights,” privileges or immunities intended for people.
The community included this provision as a challenge to corporate representatives who use
court-bestowed constitutional “rights” and legal privileges to nullify local ...laws and
override the legitimate rights of citizens.
In adopting the law, Shrewsbury Township became the fourth community government in the country
to define liability and impose penalties for chemical bodily trespass, following the lead of
the Town of Halifax, Virginia, Mahanoy Township in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania and Packer
Township in Carbon County, Pennsylvania.
Ben Price, Projects Director for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund,
the organization that helped draft the Packer Township Ordinance said,
"We started this process a year ago, and the Supervisors have been very responsible in studying
the issue, listening to their community, and coming to a conclusion that all too many of us have
reached: that if the right to self-government is denied to people in the communities where they live,
then it is denied completely.
The right to self-govern cannot be claimed if people are denied the right to exercise it
in their own communities.
State preemption can no longer be tolerated when it strips people affected by governing
decisions of the absolute right to be in charge of making those decisions...
Shrewsbury joins a growing list of communities that have begun to exercise self-governing rights
as a direct challenge to State and federal intimidation, coercion, and denial of people's rights
on behalf of privileged corporations.
Passage of this Ordinance is especially significant at this time, since the Pennsylvania Attorney
General is suing East Brunswick Township for adopting a similar Ordinance.
Acting as private litigator for agribusiness and sludge corporations, under authority of a State
statute lobbied for heavily by these industries, the PA Attorney General recently filed a legal brief
requesting the court overturn East Brunswick?s Ordinance without giving the community its day in court.
In that brief, the top law enforcement officer in Pennsylvania made this unequivocal statement
his core argument for nullifying the local law:
"There is no inalienable right to local self-government."
The people of Shrewsbury Township also included a provision that recognizes the right of natural
communities and ecosystems to exist and flourish within the Township, joining ten other communities
that have asserted environmental protection as an enforceable right rather than a matter of
The Shrewsbury Township law:
(1) Bans corporations from engaging in the land application of sewage sludge;
(2) Bans persons from using corporations to engage in the land application of sewage sludge;
(3) Provides for the testing of sewage sludge prior to land application by individuals,
with testing costs to be borne by the applicant;
(4) Prohibits chemical bodily trespass upon residents of the Township;
(5) Establishes strict liability and burden of proof standards for chemical trespass;
(6) Removes claims to legal rights and protections from corporations within the Township;
(7) Recognizes and provides for enforcement of rights of residents, natural communities and ecosystems;
(8) Subordinates sludge hauling and disposing corporations to the People of Shrewsbury Township;
(9) Adopts Pennsylvania regulations as locally enforceable concerning the land application of sewage
sludge by individuals.
In the Ordinance, the Township Board of Supervisors declared that if state and federal agencies
or corporate managers - attempt to invalidate the Ordinance, a Township-wide public meeting would
be hosted to determine additional steps to expand local control and self-governance within the Township.
Just one night prior to Shrewsbury adopting its Ordinance, Supervisors for Packer Township in Carbon County
voted unanimously to add a provision in their Ordinance, otherwise identical to Shrewsbury's,
which declares: "The authority of the Pennsylvania Attorney General within Packer Township to enforce
any State law that removes authority from the people of Packer Township to decide the future of their
community, and to protect the health, safety, welfare, and quality of life of Township residents,
natural communities, and ecosystems, is not recognized within the Township of Packer."
The Attorney General has advised Packer Township that his office is reviewing their Ordinance for a possible
law suit to overturn it.
By enacting their new Ordinance, the community government of Shrewsbury joins Packer Township,
East Brunswick Township, Tamaqua Borough, Blaine Township, and dozens of others in overshadowing
the State, by recognizing that the consent of the governed is a prerequisite for just governments and law.
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, located in Chambersburg,
has been working with people in Pennsylvania since 1995 to assert their fundamental rights
to democratic self-governance, and to enact laws which end destructive and rights-denying
corporate action aided and abetted by state and federal governments.
BLO fecit 20090907 - PA Sludge Issues - stories